Off-axis monochromatic aberrations in the human eye impose limits on peripheral vision. However, the magnitude of the aberrations off-axis, and in particular coma, has not been yet completely determined. We have developed a procedure to estimate third order aberrations in the periphery of the human eye. The technique is based on recording series of double pass retinal images with unequal entrance and exit pupil diameters (Artal, Iglesias, Lo´pez-Gil & Green (1995b). J. Opt. Soc. Am. A, 12, 2358–2366.) which allows the odd asymmetries in the retinal image be assessed. The procedure that is described provides accurate estimates of the main off-axis aberrations: astigmatism, defocus and coma. We have measured these aberrations in four normal subjects. For a given eccentricity, the measured amount of coma and astigmatism are relatively similar among subjects, because the angular distance from the axis is the dominant factor in determining the magnitude of these aberrations. However, we found considerable variability in the values of peripheral defocus, probably due to a complicate combination of off-axis aberrations and fundus shape. The final off-axis optical performance of the eye for a given object location is determined by a particular mixture of defocus, astigmatism, coma and higher order aberrations. © 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.